Friday, April 22, 2016
'I often dreamed of seeing these places.' The WWII journey of Private Joseph P. Hudacs
One of the many effects of World War II was an unprecedented amount of mobility. Many young men and women who might otherwise have never ventured more than a few hundred miles from home traveled across the U.S. and to foreign lands. In some cases (like my parents) a spouse went with them for part of the journey.
One such soldier was Private (later to be Sergeant) Joseph P. Hudacs of Scranton, Pennsylvania. I learned about him through a postcard I recently found on eBay. Joe was born in 1922 and enlisted in the Army in March 1942, three months after Pearl Harbor. He was soon on a train, heading for California. Somewhere along the way he bought a postcard with a photo of an Indian chief (see attached image) and mailed it to his brother back home. It’s postmarked Holbrook, Arizona.
In the card he said he saw “some of these fellows and their reservation,” and added, “This sure is some trip. I wish you could see the scenery along the way.” Then he wrote something I think was typical of many soldiers:
“I often dreamed of seeing these place but I thought I would have to make a fortune before I could make a trip like this. But here I am and getting paid for making the trip.”
Two years later Joe saw Europe, but under very different circumstances. He took part in heavy combat, as recounted in his obituary when he died in February 2015:
“Born in Scranton, son of the late John and Mary Novak Hudacs, Joe was a veteran of World War II, leaving school before graduation to join the Army when Pearl Harbor was attacked. He was a sergeant with the Sixth Armored Division, was in the Normandy Invasion and the Battle of the Bulge with General Patton's Third Army and worked to free the dying people in the concentration camps in Czechoslovakia.”
The obituary also said, “Joe was a kind, generous, faith-filled man who lived a simple life.” He worked at Tobyhanna Army Depot and Pennsylvania Gas and Water Co. It appears Joe never married or had children, as his obituary does not mention a wife or children, only nieces and nephews.
Joe Hudacs is typical of the millions of American men of that era who did their duty, often under horrendous circumstances, and then returned home to a quiet and productive life.
His obituary can be found online at http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/thetimes-tribune/obituary.aspx?pid=174217328